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"This is the past, and the past is in black and white. Get it?"
Ever since black and white photography, the past has been depicted as in black and white, sepia tone, or muted colors. Usually invoked for a Flashback
or silent film homage. Sometimes made fun of
by claiming that the real world was, in fact, black and white prior to the invention of color.
Gloriously averted by world's first non-artificial-color footage
Subtrope of Flashback Effects
. See also Deliberately Monochrome
, for when the entire work is this way.
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- A Geico commercial, presenting the scenario of Abraham Lincoln's wife asking him whether a dress makes her look fat, was done in heavy sepia with conspicuous film grain, as though it were filmed in the 1930s.
Anime & Manga
- Done in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood during one Scar's flashbacks. They mix it with Splash of Color to contrast both the blue eyes of the Amestrian Soldiers invading Ishval and Winry's parents with the red eyes of the Ishvallans and Envy in disguise, just before he shoots the young girl to start the war.
- Most of the flashbacks in Season 1 of Tower of God are various shades of sepia and brown.
- In season one of Axis Powers Hetalia, when America thinks about the time England spent with him when he was growing up, the Flashback sequences are all shown in an old-fashioned sepia tone.
- Discussed in one Sunday Strip of Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin asks his dad why old photos are in black and white, and Dad explains that the world used to be in black and white before the 1930s ("and it was pretty grainy color for a while, too"). His dad Hand Waves the fact that old paintings use colors that supposedly didn't exist back then; as to why the photos didn't turn to color with everything else, the explanation that they're color photos of a black-and-white world.
- Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft use sepia tinted panels with clipped corners (to look like a photograph in an album) for flashbacks.
- A clever variant in the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip story "Doctor Who and the Nightmare Game", an Affectionate Parody of Roy of the Rovers and other 1970s football comics: The flashbacks to how the Shakespeare Brothers took over Delchester United are in duotone, just like the strips being pastiched.
Films — Live-Action
- At least two Goosebumps books ("The Haunted School" and "Streets of Panic Park") have had the protagonists travel to the past, which is rendered in an eerie black-and-white world.
- In Where's Wally? in Hollywood, "Shhh! This is a Silent Movie" depicts all the actors and sets in black and white, though the crews filming them are drawn in color.
- Fergie's "Glamorous" video has black & white flashbacks.
- Flashbacks from the Pensieve in the Harry Potter video games are like this.
- The hero's recovered memories in Sanitarium are shown as either black-and-white or sepia-toned grainy-textured films.
- Weirdly inverted in Vagrant Story. Most of the game takes place in a Deliberately Monochrome setting (mostly brown). When Ashley flashes back to his past, he sees a gorgeous blue sky and a green grassy hill.
- Parodied in Vault 112's Tranquility Lane Lotus-Eater Machine in Fallout 3, which simulates a 1950's style cul de sac neighborhood.
- Plok has a dream flashback where you play as Grand Pappy Plok, with grayscale graphics, silent film-style text, and piano music.
- The flashback sequences in XIII are monochrome.
- In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, flashbacks in the Adventure mode cutscenes are black and white.
- Flashbacks in Chibi-Robo are in sepia. Additionally, when the title robot and his sidekick go back in time, everything is sepia except for them. Lampshaded by the sidekick, who says that they must be in the past since everything's all sepia.
- The flashback mission in Modern Warfare, although set in 1996, has its graphics desaturated to grayish-sepia tones with a grainy filter.
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has this effect in the Temple of Time entry hall.
- In Kingdom Hearts II, Timeless River is monochrome to mimic the style of the Classic Disney Shorts.
- Mickey Mania, whose levels are based on Mickey Mouse cartoons dating from 1928 to 1990, begins with a Steamboat Willie level. It starts off in black and white (except for Mickey himself), but patches of color are added into the scenery as the level progresses.
- Flashbacks in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney always do this (except in cases 1-4 of the first game). The one in case 3-4 is even shown with lines running down it like errors on an old film reel. The fifth case is different because it was not in the original release of the first game.
- Shiki's memories in Tsukihime are often in black and white; in one case to deliberately hide the fact that the girl in the window was Kohaku and the girl that was outside was Hisui. The girls are identical twins other than their eye color.
- Sepia tones are used for the Flashbacks shown at the end of certain episodes of the Mario Party TV series, reviewing some of the more memorable incidents on that board. The same effect is used when flashing back to events from previous games.